Yes, New York does have a statute of limitations on sex abuse cases. In civil claims, survivors of sexual abuse typically have 20 years to file a lawsuit against their alleged abuser, per CVP § 213-C. Those who were abused as children have until age 55 to file their suit, per CVP § 208(b). In criminal cases, the statute of limitations varies depending on the nature of the crime.
Additionally, adult victims who were abused at age 18 or older may file lawsuits between November 23, 2022 and November 23, 2023, no matter when the statute of limitations on their case expired, thanks to the Adult Survivors Act (ASA).
What Is the Adult Survivors Act (ASA), and How does it Apply to Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuits in New York?
In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil claims for certain sex crimes, such as those related to incest, rape, or criminal sexual acts. However, that legislation was not retroactive and only applies to new cases. The ASA helps remedy this.
The ASA (CVP § 214-J) provides a one-year window for survivors of sexual abuse that occurred when they were 18 or older to file lawsuits, regardless of the statute of limitations. The ASA allows survivors to file claims against their abuser and liable institutions or employers for negligence. The one-year window will begin on November 23, 2022 and end on November 23, 2023.
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What Is the Child Victims Act (CVA), and How does it Apply to Civil Lawsuits?
The Child Victims Act (CVA), passed in 2019, offered a “lookback” window for child victims of sex abuse to file lawsuits, which ended on August 14, 2021.
Additionally, the CVA changed the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual assault. Survivors can now file civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers until they turn age 55 (previously 23), according to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Statutes of Limitations in Criminal Sex Abuse Cases
As noted, the criminal case statutes of limitations for most sexual abuse offenses are two and five years for misdemeanors and felonies, respectively. However, per CPL § 30.10, there are other criminal statutes of limitations for some sex crimes, such as:
- First-degree rape, incest, aggravated sexual abuse, or sexual conduct against a child: No time limit
- Second-degree rape, incest, or criminal sexual act: 20 years after the crime was committed or 10 years after it was first reported, whichever comes first
- Third-degree rape or criminal sexual act: 10 years
These statutes of limitations may also vary if the victim is a child or certain other circumstances apply.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Sex Abuse Lawsuit?
There are two types of recoverable damages in civil sexual abuse lawsuits: compensatory and punitive.
These are meant to pay for losses the survivor sustained due to the abuse in an attempt to make them “whole” again. These can include the following:
- Medical bills and expenses – All related past and future medical and mental health care costs may be compensable, including emergency care, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, prescription medication, psychotherapy, counseling, etc.
- Lost income and diminished earning capacity – Lost income includes wages the survivor could not earn due to medical problems or emotional distress. Also, if a person’s physical or psychological injuries hinder their ability to earn income in the future, they can ask for damages related to diminished earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering – The psychological toll on sexual abuse survivors can be devastating and require intense therapy and long-term recovery efforts. Although nothing can make up for the survivor’s harm, their physical and emotional pain and suffering can be, to some degree, compensated in a lawsuit.
Punitive damages are a form of punishment levied against a defendant intending to punish them for egregious wrongdoing. A judge or jury may order a defendant to pay punitive damages for actions involving gross negligence, intent to harm, malice, etc.
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Get Help from a Sexual Abuse Attorney
Clearly, there are many different statutes of limitations for sex abuse in New York. The best way to determine the exact deadline for your case is to speak with a sex abuse lawyer who is familiar with the laws and can guide you during your lawsuit.
If you are a sexual abuse survivor seeking compensation for your many losses, please contact Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers for a free, confidential consultation. Darryl “The Hammer” Isaacs or another sexual abuse lawyer from our team can help you evaluate your damages, file a lawsuit on your behalf, and fight for the justice you deserve.